Betty Hardin's face illuminated as she walked by the hydrangeas, hibiscuses and other flowers in the horticulture exhibit of the Fulton Garden Club's "Back to Gardening: Show Me" flower show, which marked its 28th year.
Hardin, a longtime member of the club, entered flowers of her own in the show, but still found excitement in viewing the other colorful submissions.
Her thumb started turning green as a youth, watching her grandmother and mother plant.
"And I've loved them ever since," she said Thursday at the show inside Fulton's First Christian Church.
Three judges, two from the St. Louis area and another from Bourbon, honored Hardin with the Horticulture Sweepstakes Award at the event. She entered about 40 flowers in the show that highlights the work of local gardeners.
"You get started and you can't quit ... (Fulton Garden Club) is a wonderful organization for anyone whose interested in seeing nature at it's best."
Angela Weeks, organizer of this year's flower show, said three judges looked at a flower's shape, bloom and coloring while also checking to make certain there were no holes or spots in leaves or petals.
Like Hardin, Ann Smith of Fulton started growing flowers in her childhood with the help of her grandmother. Smith said she is always trying out new flowers in her garden and that variety helped her enter all nine categories in the design division of the flower show. She was named the design sweepstakes winner. Weeks said arrangements were judged on the vase, variety of plants, color and three key elements in design - thriller (plant that gives the arrangement height), filler (body of the arrangement) and spiller (plant that spills over the vase and acts as the foundation).
Smith said she was impressed with the entries this year, which have grown well despite bugs and weather conditions like hail.
"Ordinary plants like marigolds and zinnias are extraordinary this year," Smith said.
Fulton Garden Club member Betty Henry of Fulton photographed the blue ribbon winners in each category during the show. She said she likes "seeing the beautiful flowers and seeing people come in to enjoy the flowers." The show is motivation for the garden club members, Henry added.
In her 23 times of attending the flower show, Henry also finds joy in watching all of the club members come together to make the event a success.
"Part of (why I enjoy the show) is the camaraderie of working together," Henry said.
Weeks said she appreciated the help of all the garden club members who pulled together to put on the show.
"It really touches me," she said.